The Personal and Corporate Actions of the Holy Spirit: 2. The Spirit as a Seal

 •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 8
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified) (John 7:37-3937In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37‑39)).”
“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor. 1:20-2220For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 21Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:20‑22)).”
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. 1:1313In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13)).”
These passages present to us three great facts.
First, that the Holy Spirit was never given to dwell in the believer, until Jesus had accomplished the work of redemption, and had entered His glory on high. He had wrought, as had the Lord Jesus, before He came; and then as the Lord Jesus had come into the world, so was the Holy Spirit sent down to dwell — not merely to work, as in former days. This He did at Pentecost.
Secondly, we see that God anoints with the Spirit, and seals us in connection with the new place for man, “in Christ,” risen from the dead and ascended.
And, thirdly, in the last cited passage, we find that the believer in Him receives the Spirit as a seal, as a consequence of his faith in Christ.
I will ask you again, as in the former paper, to recall with me some of God’s dealings in the OT days, which will cause His present dealings to stand out in contrast with all that went before.
I pass over the pro-patriarchal days, and commence with Abraham, in whom these dealings of God began. We first find promise given to Abraham. “I will bless thee, [said the Lord to him] and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee... and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12:2, 32And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:2‑3)).” These promises were confirmed and repeated to Abraham at the figurative resurrection from the dead of Isaac (Gen. 22), which was typical of Christ risen from the dead.
There were afterward promises given to David, as the root of the royalty of Israel, Abraham and David being the two great vessels of promise on the earth.
But previously to David we find an intermediate dealing of God with Israel by the law, which brought Israel under a covenant of faithfulness on their part to perform the terms of a covenant which was the ground of their blessing or otherwise. In the promises there was but one party who entered into certain obligations in perfect free will, to fail in which would be for God, who made them to fail — which can never be. If I were to say to a person, “I will give you this book to-morrow,” and I did not do so, it is I that would fail. But were I to say, “I will give you this book: to-morrow if you do so-and-so,” it depends both on his accomplishing the terms proposed, and then on my fulfilling my promise on his having complied with the conditions. This would be the principle of law; that of promise. If the latter were to fail, God would fail, which He cannot; all His promises and gifts and calling, are without repentance.
Now, these dealings of God were going on in the OT: Israel was being tested under law, and the promises of God, given before the law, stood in abeyance until God’s due time came. At last Jesus came to this world — “Born of a woman,” through whom sin had entered the world; and “born under the law,” through which Israel was under the curse. In Him all the promises of God were yea and amen. In His own Person He embodied them all, whether to Abraham or to David; the former, the root of a race; the latter, the root of royalty in Israel. But He was cast out and slain. Those who had the promises rejected them when they were fulfilled in Christ. And when this was so, and the work of the cross was accomplished, and Christ had risen and gone on high, a new thing is presented for faith, which is neither law, under which man was condemned, nor promise, which was now fulfilled. This was accomplishment; redemption was completed, and God’s righteousness established; His truth manifested, and His grace set free to act in sovereignty outside all former dealings, and to bring out what was in His mind before the foundation of the world.
Hence when the cross was past we have the “nows” of scripture brought fully out.
1st. “Now, once in the end of the world (consummation of the ages) hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” This was Christ upon the cross (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)).
2nd. “Now the righteousness of God is manifested” apart from the law. This was seen in Christ upon the throne of God (Rom. 3:2121But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (Romans 3:21)).
3rd. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and incorruptibility to light by the gospel (2 Tim. 1:9, 109Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (2 Timothy 1:9‑10)). This was by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.
4th. And again, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by means of the church, the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:1010To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, (Ephesians 3:10)). In this was we find the church of God displayed.
Let me here remark that we possess four things (with many others) which were never known in the OT times:
The righteousness of God as the ground of His grace to us;
a purged conscience through the blood of Christ; and, as a consequence,
the indwelling of the Spirit; and, still more so,
the knowledge of the Father.
All these are ours now through the accomplished work of Christ.
Let us, also, state that the new place for man as “in Christ” before God was never known, nor could it be until Jesus had taken His place in a new sphere for man — risen from among the dead. The patriarchs and saint in OT days could not be said to be “in Christ,” nor could such be said of those who were with Him in His sojourn here on earth. It would have no meaning to speak of such being “in Christ.” I name this, for it is in connection with this new place for man risen with Christ, as of a new creation, “If any man be in Christ [there is] a new creation (2 Cor. 5:1717Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)) — that the Holy Spirit is given. This new state for the believer came out when the Lord went up on high; and carries with it the complete blotting out of his whole previous state, with the guilt thereto attached, as a child of Adam.
We come now to what happens as a consequence of faith in the Holy Spirit’s witness of the work of Christ when received by faith. It is that the Holy Spirit is given him as a Seal; I say a “consequence,” because it does not need that the believer should ask for the Spirit to be given him (though when he possesses the Holy Spirit he may seek to be filled with the Spirit as a true state indeed); but when the work of Christ is presented and received by the awakened soul (for it is not a sinner that is sealed, but a believer) as an answer to his need of conscience, the Holy Spirit follows, as from God, who sets His seal of appropriation upon the person so blest. Just as Paul could appeal to the Galatians, “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Of course it was by the “hearing of faith.”
Many instances may be seen in the Acts of the Apostles which illustrate this; such as that of the disciples who had previously been quickened as sinners during the Lord’s lifetime, and who received the Holy Spirit subsequently as believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). So also the Samaritans, through Philip’s preaching (Acts 8), afterward receiving the Holy Spirit. Saul of Tarsus also, when quickened by the voice of Jesus from heaven, is three days after sealed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10). Cornelius, a truly-converted soul, who prayed to God alway, &c., must send for Peter, and hear words of him for salvation; and, as a consequence, the Spirit of God seals those who heard and received the word of grace.
In the passage from 2 Corinthians 1, already referred to, we learn the progress of this great dealing of God very simply. Christ, in whom all the promises of God were yea and amen, is cast out and slain, and the children of Abraham who had them are themselves cast out — having rejected them all in Christ. But all this only makes this new place for the redeemed, and “God stablishes us [Jews] with you [Gentiles] in Christ” risen, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile — and in keeping with this new place He anoints us with the Spirit. This unction or anointing is for power over the works of the flesh and knowledge of all things — we “have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things.” “Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” The same action of the Holy Spirit, doubtless, but having another character, that is, an appropriation on God’s part of those whom He has marked as His own, and an earnest to us of all that is coming in a future day, as in Ephesians 1, “An earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.”
We will now examine some passages of scripture which show the effect of the possession of the Spirit individually in us.
1st. First we turn to Romans 5:55And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5), &c., where we read “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.”
Here is the first effect of the possession of the Spirit. We are assured of the love of God, who has saved us; it is assured to the heart. But lest in possessing the Spirit we should become mystical or introspective; lest we should turn inwardly upon ourselves to seek for evidences of this love of God, immediately the eye is turned outward upon that which is the full proof of God’s love to us in the verses which follow. There we learn how “God commends his own love” (this is omitted, but is in the Greek) toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
Without strength” to appropriate this love of God;
sinners,” still in our sins;
ungodly,” for whom Christ died; and
enemies,” who needed to be reconciled! How full and abundant is the proof of that love which the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in our hearts — pointing us to God, outside ourselves; yet giving the assurance of it, and the joy of it within!
2nd. Then in Romans 8:99But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:9) we are assured that we “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be [or since it is true] that the Spirit of God dwells in us.” The standing is changed from “in Adam” to “in Christ,” from “in the flesh” to “in the Spirit,” and all proved by the Spirit being given unto us. God reveals this, faith receives it, and the Holy Spirit makes it good in the soul.
3rd. Again, in 1 Corinthians 2, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things freely given to us of God.” Here “the things” which are ours are made known to us by the Spirit. In the OT it was said, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that wait for him.” But now our portion is all made plain, to be realized and possessed. “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.”
4th. Union with Christ, too, is known by our souls, for “He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:1717But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)). By the Spirit we know that we are in Christ, and Christ in us.
5th. Liberty is enjoyed in that new sphere to which we are brought. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:1717Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)). The freedom of a soul which has done with all questions as to self, as to Satan, and as to God. Freedom with the Father in looking up to Him on high: freedom, too, with ourselves from all the workings of lust and flesh within. Alas, how little realized, but, nevertheless, ministered unto us by the Spirit of God given us from Christ in glory.
6th. Sonship, too, is known and enjoyed. “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:66And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (Galatians 4:6)). Thus we are introduced into that positive relationship with the Father — as already the children of God.
7th. Power for our walk here on earth over the works of the flesh is found in the possession of the Holy Spirit. “Walk,” says the apostle, “in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-2316This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:16‑23)). Walking after the Spirit is ever to have the soul’s vision on Him whom the Spirit glorifies. If Christ is before the soul, then the workings of the flesh are kept in the place of death. It is not by the effort to reduce ourselves to order and manage ourselves, but by the superior occupation with the Lord Himself. This gives power, not intrinsic power in one’s own soul, but in the sense of weakness in ourselves and as over ourselves; the eye is turned on Him, and power comes forth to draw the heart after Him, and thus gives us victory over the flesh.
8th. Our Inheritance with Christ is made sure to us by the Spirit of promise given us (Eph. 1:13,1413In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13‑14)). He waits to redeem that inheritance of all created things from the enemy’s hand. He purchased it by His blood when here; took it with its load of guilt upon it, and died to redeem it all. But still the enemy is the usurper, and must be cast out. Power must be put forth to deliver it from the bondage in which it groans. Until then we also wait, but are sealed with the Spirit until the day of its redemption, when we shall inherit all as joint-heirs with Christ.
9th. We must “not grieve the Holy Spirit of God whereby we are sealed until the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:3030And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)). How often, instead of being the source of joy in Christ, and in all that is ours, is the Spirit of God turned into a Rebuker of us! We turn after the things of time and sense; we run after the things of the world and we wonder why our souls are not in their fresh joy. Ah, the Spirit is grieved; the soil is felt by that most intimate Guest who dwells in us; and in faithful love we are made to feel the stain, the heart is rebuked, and the soul made to feel its pain, and brought back humbled, but instructed to hearken afresh to this word to us, “Grieve [him] not!”
10th. Thus we find that this same blessed Guest within us, is as a well of water springing up into everlasting life, the source and power of prayer, of singing the praises of God, of worship, too. “I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (1 Cor. 14:1515What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Corinthians 14:15)). “Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:1818Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:18)). “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:2424God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)). And “We are the circumcision, which worship God by the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:22Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (Philippians 3:2)).
Thus, dear friends, we see how great a sphere of enjoyment and privilege, and responsibility, too, is opened up to us by the possession of the Spirit of God — given us as a Seal, consequent upon our faith in the work of Christ. The love of God is assured to our hearts: the New state, as “in the Spirit,” is made ours. The Things which God hath freely given us are made known. Our Union with Christ is by the Spirit given us. The true liberty of a saint from self and flesh and Satan’s power, and with our God, too, is enjoyed. By the Spirit of adoption we know our Sonship with the Father. Power for our walking outside the lusts of the flesh is ours. Our Inheritance is made sure, and we must not Grieve the Holy Spirit of God; and by the Spirit given us we Pray and Sing Praises, and Worship the Father who has sought and found us, and made us vessels for His eternal praise!
Words of Faith, 1883, pp. 150-157.